An anti-marijuana group led by former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy will donate to anti-pot legalization efforts in several states, including California.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) has raised $2 million for efforts opposing legalization in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, according to The Los Angeles Times. The group plans on donating the majority of that money to stopping weed legalization in California.
“It is putting our children at risk and has exposed children from communities of color to more racial discrimination than before,” Kennedy told the Los Angeles Times.
California will be receiving the bulk of the money since it’s the most populous state. Campaigners also feel California has a large influence over other states mulling legalization.
Kennedy’s group has backing from Kevin Sabet, President Barack Obama’s former drug policy adviser, and David Frum, the senior editor of The Atlantic. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has also backed Kennedy’s bid to stop pot legalization in her state. Kennedy is the son of former Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy.
SAM argues legalizing marijuana, beyond impacting children, would lead to more car accidents. They also say pot shops would spring up near schools.
The initiative to legalize marijuana in California, known as “Prop 64,” has raised $6.7 million dollars to date — $2.5 million of which has come directly from the former president of Facebook, Sean Parker. The legalization opposition group Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies only raised roughly $150,000.
Prop 64 proponents argue that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act would allow for strict regulation and only allow adults 21 and over to buy the drug. They point to Colorado actually seeing teen marijuana use drop after legalizing marijuana in 2014.
Advocates say marijuana is already available to those same teens, it’s just unregulated — black market drug dealers don’t ask for proof of age.
Among those who support the Proposition is former Deputy Chief with the Los Angeles Police Department Stephen Downing, who also helped initiate former President Richard Nixon’s “War on Drugs.”
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